The application of novel investigative techniques has established that there is a high prevalence of disordered gastrointestinal motor function in patients with diabetes mellitus and has provided insights into its pathogenesis and clinical significance. Acute changes in the blood glucose concentration, even within the normal postprandial range, affect both gastrointestinal motor function and the perception of sensations arising from the gastrointestinal tract. Gastric emptying is slower during hyperglycaemia and accelerated during hypoglycaemia; the perception of gastric distension is greater during hyperglycaemia than euglycaemia. The pathways mediating the effects of the blood glucose concentration on gut motility and sensation are poorly defined. The rate of gastric emptying is an important determinant of postprandial blood glucose concentrations and there is increasing evidence that gastric emptying can be modulated therapeutically in order to optimize glycaemic control in patients with diabetes.